×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Bob Dylan’s Designer Brings It All Back Home

Martin Newman’s work on the singer's Malibu manse has earned him a Hollywood clientele

“It’s been said that architecture is frozen music,” says Palm Springs resident Martin Newman, quoting Goethe about his role as a designer and restorer of classic Spanish and Mediterranean homes. “My role is composer and conductor of the mood and tone of the piece, all the while staying true to the aesthetic and the budget and time frame.”

The music metaphor is fitting, considering Newman’s first big client was Bob Dylan, whose former wife Sara spotted one of Newman’s coats fashioned from an Indian blanket in Beverly Hills in the mid-’70s and demanded to know who made it. One thing led to another before Newman, who grew up in Malibu, got a call from someone in the same area code. “Sara called and said, ‘Can you come out to Malibu and measure my husband and I for a couple of these great coats?’

(From the pages of the April 23 issue of Variety.)

“So I go out there and knock on the door and who do you think answers the door? Uncle Bob. We became friends because I guess he liked my energy and I wasn’t a threat. I was with him every day for four years after that.”

Part of that time was spent on Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue tour, for which Newman designed everything from feathered cowboy hats to cases for Dylan’s guitars and harmonicas.

At the time, Dylan was renting actor Martin Milner’s house, but when he decided to build his own Malibu compound in Point Dume, Newman became part of the design team, which included Robert Gilbert, who had become famous for his work on the homes of rock stars and pro athletes, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

“We were showing the Dylans these books of architectural features like arches,” he recalls. “In architecture, there are seven classic arches, and Bob said, ‘Just use them all.’ That was kind of his attitude.”

“Working for him, the whole crew being artisans, this whole thing that rose from the earth — it was a real castle. There’s a whale-watching tower. Each room has a theme — there’s a cathedral room, a storytelling room. We set up a tile factory on the property because there’s a million dollars worth of hand-made tile in this house. It’s an extraordinary place.”

The Dylan manse, a hodgepodge of Santa Fe, Spanish and Moorish appointments, including a Russian-styled copper dome crowning that aforementioned tower, might be the most eclectic property ever worked on by Newman, whose almost religious adherence to the aesthetics of the Spanish colonial and missionary revival movements in Southern California is his calling card.

“I only work on pre-WWII Spanish — that’s my particular niche and that’s why people come to me,” he says.

Newman’s work ranges from the interiors to the landscaping, and includes procuring everything from antique furnishings, Malibu tiles, blacksmith-worked iron accents and lighting fixtures — what he calls “the jewelry of the house.” What isn’t vintage he has reproduced from “the rarest of the rarest” items in his vast personal collection.

Newman’s clients have included actors Sam Elliott and Katharine Ross, the Eagles’ Don Henley and Bernie Leadon, label bigwig Irving Azoff and songwriter Billy Steinberg (“Like a Virgin”), as well as homes formerly owned by Bing Crosby, Cary Grant and pioneering movie mogul Joseph Schenck. Each project lasts an average of two years, and Newman works only on referrals.

“Most people who spend the kind of money that these homes cost to get and then the money involved in doing the historic restoration, they’re very committed to getting it right,” he says.

Newman’s current project is the old Ronald Reagan/Jane Wyman property in Las Palmas, Palm Springs’ equivalent of Beverly Hills/Bel Air, as well as a 1937 home near the El Mirador medical center that was bought by the founder of Cowboys and Indians magazine.

“I’m not a contractor and I’m not and architect,” explains Newman, “but I know more about my subject than most architects because I studied it. There’s no substitute for authenticity, and that’s what I live by.”

More Biz

  • Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion Per

    Tencent Profits Hit $1 Billion per Month as Company Loses Fizz

    Growing regulatory encroachments into its games business, a smaller than expected spin-off for its music division, and a fourth quarter profits drop, pointed to a troubling year for Chinese tech giant Tencent. Its financial results for the full 2018 period, while delivering profits of nearly $1 billion a month, appeared to bear out that thesis. [...]

  • splice

    Splice Raises $57.5 Million in Latest Funding Round

    Splice, a favorite of music creators that allows access to a library of three million rights-cleared sounds, announced today that the company closed a Series C funding round at $57.5 million. That brings Splice’s total amount raised to roughly $102 million since its launch in 2013. It raised a Series B in November of 2017. [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    WGA Leaders to Meet With Showrunners on Agency Packaging Fight (EXCLUSIVE)

    WGA leaders are set to meet Wednesday night with a group of showrunners who are raising concerns about the guild’s handling of negotiations with talent agents over the issue of packaging fees and agency-affiliated productions. The meeting is set for 7:30 p.m. at WGA West headquarters. WGA West president David Goodman is expected to attend. [...]

  • Bill Murray St Vincent 2014

    Weinstein Co. Sued Over Trademark Infringement in Bill Murray Film

    A horse-racing announcer has sued the Weinstein Co., claiming that the company infringed on his trademarked phrase in a 2014 Bill Murray movie. Dave Johnson is the man behind “And down the stretch they come!,” which he began using while calling races in Illinois in the 1960s. The phrase took off when Johnson moved to [...]

  • HALLIE ANDERSON AND JESSICA PAGE Mom

    Mom + Pop Promotes Hallie Anderson and Jessica Page to Co-General Managers

    Mom + Pop Music has promoted Hallie Anderson to co-GM and head of marketing and Jessica Page to co-GM and head of digital, the company announced today. They had previously served as VP of marketing and VP of digital strategy, respectively. “Being able to promote, empower and support Hallie and Jess in their new positions [...]

  • Disney Fox Takeover Placeholder

    Disney, Fox Employees Grapple With Day One Transition on Two Hollywood Lots

    What kind of a boss will Disney be? That’s a question facing employees at 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, National Geographic Partners, FX Networks, and other assorted parts of Rupert Murdoch’s former media empire. Wednesday was their first full day as staffers of the Walt Disney Co. and the initial moves have done little to [...]

  • Jay Wilson Joins Mascot Label Group

    Jay Wilson Joins Mascot Label Group as VP of Publicity

    Jay Wilson has been named VP of publicity for Mascot Label Group, the company announced today. A veteran of Republic, Glassnote and Universal Records, In his new position Wilson will conceive and implement media strategies for the company and its roster of artists such as Beth Hart, James Morrison, P.O.D., Robert Randolph and the Family [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content